Tuesday, May 1

Are You Kidding Me?!

Saturday morning I left the house at 5:25am headed for Three Sisters. Dawn had not yet broken and there were no cars on the road until I reached Ridge. !@#$ Ridge.

I approached Ridge from the north to make a right turn to head west. Independence has a striped shoulder and Ridge is just a big ole wide swath of asphalt until it crosses Kipling.

A car reached the intersection (3-way stop), heading east on Ridge, just as I reached the intersection from the north. I was making a right, there were no other cars, so I didn't even slow down. I made the right from striped lane to honkin' wide shoulder at speed.

The driver of the car yelled from their open window: "Didn't you see that stop sign?"

Are you kidding me? 5:30am on a Saturday morning, no traffic, right turn while traveling outside the normal drive lane...OF COURSE I saw it! Of course I ran it!

The other day a motorist, who may be a cyclist when not trapped behind a windshield, yelled at me to tell me that something I had just done gives cyclists a bad name. I'm not going to brag about what I did, but I like to call it "Oh No You Didn't Just Cut Me Off!"

Are you kidding me? Why is no one worried about motorists giving other motorists bad names? Really, you're going to call me out for something that endangered no one while drivers continuously break laws, endanger other motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, road signs, other inanimate objects and pets?

CONSEQUENCES

I accept the consequences of my scofflaw behavior. If I do something stupid enough to injure or kill myself then natural selection has failed to do its work because I've already passed on my genes. I'm sure spitting in the face of natural selection will still hurt. If I get a ticket because I ran a stop sign in the middle of nowhere with no traffic around then so be it. I won't argue. But my scofflaw tactics are strategic to get me between Point A and Point B as efficiently as possible, not to endanger, harass or otherwise inconvenience other users of the roadways.

I've averaged 12 miles a day for all of 2012. I averaged 13.9 miles per day in 2011. I'm what you might call an "experienced" cyclist, more so than the average. Now, before you go getting all riled up, I'm not jinxing myself. I understand the nuances of the game. I know the rules. I understand how the cards move. Again, I accept the consequences of my tactics and behavior.

My cycling motto for the past couple of years has been: be visible, be vigilant, be consistent. I can't impress on you how seriously I take this motto, and how vigilant I am always. Sometimes I catch my attention wandering as I ride and reality jerks me back to the moment. I get the butterfly flutters in the same manner as when I realize I've driven 20 miles down the interstate without having my seatbelt on.

My vigilance has saved me more times than I can count, and I know the day I stop being vigilant is the day I start racing toward my doom.

SCOFFLAW RESPONSIBILITY

It's disgusting, and galling, when motorists use the random scofflaw cyclist as an excuse to endanger any and all cyclists. I will not accept responsibility for the scofflaw behavior of motorists. The old adage "two wrongs do not make a right" still applies in this situation. I'm not defending the running of stop signs as acceptable behavior. Lately there has been a video circulating around the cyclo-blogosphere showing two cyclists in Berkley riding in a bike lane hit by a car that then drives away. When someone posted it on facebook I commented: "I'm sure the hit and run was justified because they ran the stop sign earlier in the video."




The scofflaw (cyclist) behavior occurs at 1:16 and the truly criminal behavior happens at 2:39 in the video.

Go ahead. Go ahead you moto-facists and say it was karma, but the reality is that no one deserves to be hit by a car just for running a stop sign. If you're stupid enough to blast straight through a busy intersection without heeding traffic signs and signals then you will reap the consequences, but if you safely skirt the law you may deserve a ticket, a fine, or whatever the law mandates and allows, but getting smashed by a car far exceeds any realistic consequences.

Reading a forum thread on the subject of this video I came across this reply by user eddief

My personal interpretation compares cycling to being a pedestrian. If I was walking, I would slow down enough to look both ways to see if it was safe to cross the street. That does not necessarily require me to actually STOP walking, especially in quiet neighborhoods. (the youtube vid is from such a neighborhood) And that is what I also do on my bike. And that can easily mean that many stop signs are dealt with by casually rolling through them as I believe I am smart enough to know when it is safe to do that.

From a physics standpoint, comparing bikes to motor vehicles is like comparing watermelons to apples. And holding cyclists to the exact same standards on the road as motorists is not realistic. While I agree the laws should apply to everyone, I don't believe all traffic laws are created equal. And I will not accept criticism from motorists or casual cyclists anymore. When you've cranked quite a few miles on my pedals then we'll talk.

Riding on the road is stressful. Interacting with individuals with dubious judgment can really put you on edge. Even in the best of circumstances being a bike commuter is a not a walk in the park. Knowing the rules of the road is important. Knowing when you can safely, and smartly bend those rules makes you an efficient, if not morally perfect, cyclist.

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